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Grateful family salutes EMTs, first responders
• There were few dry eyes in the Krannert ballroom during the special recognition.

The family of a young Rome man born with Shone's Syndrome thanked first responders for saving the life of 22-year-old Ross Wood in January.

Wood, who said he remembers virtually nothing about the day his heart stopped working, said it has been an amazing experience to be able to meet those responsible for bringing him back to life multiple times on Jan. 14.

Wood was at home with his girlfriend Hannah Boling when he told her he felt tired and wanted to lay down.

A short time later she reached over to him and realized his heart had stopped beating.

Boling called 911 where Christy Hazelwood picked up the phone and guided her through basic CPR until rescue personnel could get on the scene.

That scene was about 5 miles out Booger Hollow Road, not particularly close to anything.

"I knew that she was going to get tired and I didn't want her to get frustrated and upset that it wasn't working," Hazelwood said. "Just trying to keep her focused and going was the hardest, and not knowing if we had the right address because she didn't actually know the address. It was scary."

Floyd County police officer Kendall Dollar was the first person on the scene and just happened to have an Automated External Defibrillator in her police cruiser and had been trained on how to use it.

Next came Doug Swift with the Redmond EMS paramedic crew. They and had to shock Wood several more times to keep him alive on the way to the hospital.

"I didn't want to give up, I didn't want to quit," Swift said, fighting back tears himself after meeting some of Wood's family for the first time Thursday. "I kept going as hard as I could go."

There weren't many dry eyes in the ballroom at the Northwest Georgia Cardiovascular Symposium in the Krannert Center ballroom Thursday afternoon during the ceremony.

From the time her son's girlfriend placed the call to 911 to the time the transport vehicle reached Redmond Regional Hospital, 55 minutes had passed, Vicki Wood said.

"It was a long night," she said.

By 10:30 the next morning her son was finally responsive and asking to see his family. Wood was later transferred to Emory Hospital in Atlanta to continue his recovery before coming home Jan. 24.

"Every blip I've had back into memory, a name would pop up and it would ring through how much they cared about me," Wood said. He was born with Shone's Syndrome, a congenital heart disease that presents four different heart defects on the left side of his heart.

"It had really become an afterthought in my life," Wood said. "I'd do something and if it's too much I just slow down. I've never had it stop me from doing anything."

He had been through multiple surgeries to try to make repairs in the early stages of his life. His first heart failure occurred when he was about 3-months-old. The most recent was about nine years ago when he was 13. There was no warning the heart stoppage that occurred in January would take place.

"Doctors said it was just a one in a million chance, the stars just happened in such a way that I had to stop breathing that time," Wood said.

"We can never thank you enough," said his father Bryce Wood to all of the first responders and cardiac care team at Redmond.

The Northwest Georgia Cardiovascular Symposium is a regular event that provides continuing education credits to EMS personnel as well as nursing professionals.

Welcoming new citizens

Encouraging others to give
Toy company pledges to match $100K in donations for transitional housing

You've been called out ... for a worthy cause.

The CEO of Rome-based Cortex Toys announced the company would match $100,000 in donations to assist the William S. Davies Homeless Shelters in providing transitional housing for families in need.

The hope, Dr. John Cowan, the CEO of Cortex Toys, said, is to inspire the community to get involved.

"This is a very real problem and it's worth spending real money on," Cowan said. "And a big part of having a company is corporate philanthropy. It's our duty as companies to give back."

The amount of families and children who are living in Floyd County that are functionally homeless, meaning they're living hotel room to hotel room or stay in homes with families or friends. In Floyd County Schools there are approximately 297 students classified as homeless while that number is 230 for Rome City Schools.

Cowan chose to propose the matching donation to Devon Smyth, the executive director of the Davies Shelters, because he liked her approach to combating the issue.

"She's got a holistic approach to this problem," Cowan said.

It's not just feeding people and putting a roof over their heads, he said, it's also leading them to find the resources they need to build themselves back up and become a functioning member of society.

The plans are still in their early stages, but the donations may be used as the seed money to fill in gaps in the process of getting people back on their feet and moving forward — especially families.

Right now the Davies Shelters has the 16-bed facility for men on 18th Street and are finishing up a home for single women and women with children on North Broad, called the Ruth and Naomi Project.

What's missing in the community is the stage after people leave the shelter, and transitional housing will help to bridge the gap between getting help and self-sufficiency.

Typically, Davies Shelter guests stay three-to six-months, and the time is used to help them get back on their feet and try and save some money, Smyth said.

But often the costs of getting their own place is more than they expected, and they may not have the skill set built to be self sufficient in the community — and that becomes even more important when children are involved.

"If others want to contribute, we're a registered 501c3 and we can provide a tax receipt," Smyth said.

Those who wish to help can send a donation via check to PMB 391, 3 Central Plaza, 30161 and designate it for transitional housing, or on their website or even call in to the shelter at 706-512-1152.

Confirmed case of TB at elementary schools
• Students will be tested by the two schools on Tuesday.


Dr. Unini Odama

The Georgia Department of Public Health notified the Floyd County Schools district Wednesday afternoon of an active case of tuberculosis diagnosed at Model Elementary and Johnson Elementary Schools.

A spokesman for the Northwest Georgia Department of Public Health, said only one case of TB has been diagnosed and that individual had been at the two schools.

Due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the GDPH did not alert the system to whether or not this case was student or faculty, Superintendent Jeff Wilson said.

"We will test anyone who thinks they may have it," he said. "We don't want to over or under play it."

Letters from DPH will be going home to all MES and JES families with more details and plans of action today.

Vanity Romano, a parent of a Model Elementary School student, said she received one of the two letters the school sent out. The letter alerted her to the fact her child may have been in contact with the individual who was diagnosed with TB, she said. The letter also told her the system would be testing students for TB next Tuesday due to the fact the results take 48-72 hours to come in.

Romano said she is concerned this is not soon enough. "My concern is exposure, because it can spread," she said. "If there is any risk of my daughter or anyone to be exposed to a disease, the earlier the diagnosis the better."

Romano said she tried going to her daughter's primary care doctor but they told her they do not conduct those tests there. She received similar responses from urgent care and the emergency room. Romano said she called the health department and was told because there is already a scheduled TB test for Floyd County students on Tuesday they would not test her daughter this week.

"I'm just trying to do what is best for everyone," she said, adding that she will be keeping her daughter home until the test to prevent possible exposure to her daughter and others.

The Centers for Disease Control says it may take two to 12 weeks to begin showing symptoms for TB. The tests administered to students on Tuesday will only show if a student has been infected with the bacteria and not necessarily if the student has a latent TB infection.

While this may be a cause of concern, a press release from the school district stated, the risk of becoming infected with TB is low.

A statement from Dr. Unini Odama, health director for the DPH Northwest Health District, said the case is being treated at home and there is no present danger.

"We are working with FCS officials to identify and test individuals at risk of exposure to TB based on guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. We are confident that actions by school officials and Floyd Medical Center are guarding the health of the students, staff and public. The confirmed TB case is being treated at home and do not present a danger to others," Odama said in a statement.

According to the CDC, TB is a disease caused by germs that are spread from person to person through the air. TB usually affects the lungs, but it can also affect other parts of the body, such as the brain, the kidneys or the spine.

The general symptoms of TB disease include feelings of sickness or weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats. The symptoms of TB disease of the lungs also include coughing, chest pain and the coughing up of blood.

TB germs are put into the air when a person with TB of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings. These germs can stay in the air for several hours, depending on the environment. Persons who breathe in the air containing these TB germs can become infected; this is called latent TB infection.

Animal shelter pets ready for homes
• The Floyd County Commission is contracting with a vet to sterilize all adoptable pets at PAWS.

A Dalton-based mobile veterinarian will take over spay and neuter services at PAWS under a contract approved this week by the Floyd County Commission.

"Ideally, all the shelter pets will be sterilized as soon as they pass their stray holds," Commissioner Allison Watters said.

The board's contract with Robyn O'Kane is for less than a 10 percent increase over its February 2018 agreement with the nonprofit National Spay Alliance, which was terminated Tuesday with a 30-day notice. County Manager Jamie McCord said no budget adjustment would be required.

"NSA has tried extremely hard ... they just can't find a vet. It's not a local issue, it's a national issue to get vets to staff a shelter," McCord told the board.

O'Kane is the owner of My Kids Have Paws Veterinary Clinic, which has a Dalton location but is primarily a mobile service covering much of Northwest Georgia.

She made a recent stop at PAWS, the Public Animal Welfare Services facility at 99 North Ave. Shelter assistant Gina Rogers said there were 147 dogs and cats awaiting adoption on Thursday.

A longtime animal advocate, O'Kane left a career teaching human anatomy and physiology to nursing students in New York to become a vet about four years ago.

Her goal: to reduce the euthanasia rate by offering low-cost spay and neuter services.

Through a Facebook page and website,, she schedules home visits and mobile events at locations as far-ranging as Cleveland, Summerville, Cartersville and Rome.

O'Kane will be working out of the surgical suite in PAWS, which was included in the design with an eye to hosting vet services emphasizing spay and neuter. Starting its third year of operation, the $5.7 million facility was built with special purpose, local option sales tax funds. It has 232 enclosures for animals, separate sections for intakes and adoptions and a medical-grade HVAC system.

McCord said the facility had a live outcome rate of 96.13 percent last year. That accounts for animals returned to owners, adopted out directly and transferred to rescue groups.

""We cannot do this without our partners," McCord said.

The latest monthly report, for January, indicates 283 animals were impounded or surrendered by owners and the live outcome rate was at 98.83 percent. PAWS is open for adoptions Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m. Surrenders are accepted from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the week and from 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays. It's closed on Sundays.


Today's artwork is by Gavin Williams, a fifth-grader at Alto Park Elementary School.